Christian Prayer Mats!

I recall there was a really interesting post on Christian prayer mats on BT a few years ago. That post, I don’t think exists any longer, but I do have a snippet I came across in Diarmaid McCulloch’s book which many of you will appreciate. It’s really interesting these prayer mats were being used in places like Northumbria too!

Speaking of the 7th century, Diarmaid McCulloch tells us Christians were praying like Muslims before the coming of Islam:

…the characteristic prostration of Muslim prayer was then normal in the Christian Middle East, where it still survives in some traditional Christian communities. Prayer mats, still one of the most familiar features of the mosque today, were extensively used by the Christian monks as far apart as Syria and Northumbria or Ireland before the coming of Islam. [A History of Christianity, Diarmaid McCulloch, Penguin Group, 2009, p258]

Could it have anything to do with Prophet Jesus (p) worshipping God in the manner in which Muslims pray? In fact, even Christian sources point to this:

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” [Matthew 26: 39, NIV]

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.  “Abba,[a] Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” [Mark 14:35-36, NIV]. Also see: Luke 22:39-46

We can clearly see that Jesus appears to pray in the manner of the Muslims according to Christian sources. Thus, from these passages we can possibly  understand the usage of prayer mats within Christian communities prior to the coming of Islam.

Note: The word Father (Abba) is simply a Jewish term for God. It is not to be taken literally, Professor Geza Vermes writes: Jesus prayed there in the solitude, invoking God as ‘Abba’, ‘Father’ or My Father’. The word is given in Aramaic in Mark and in Greek in Matthew and Luke. Abba is a familiar but also respectful expression. It is not the equivalent of ‘Daddy’, as some New Testament scholars have unwisely ventured to propose. [‘Jesus’ Nativity-Passion-Resurrection, Geza Vermes, Penguin books, 2008, p. 208]


Categories: Islam

1 reply

  1. Christianity in the first 1,000 years had a lot of bowing and prostrations. The Coptic Church still does a lot up until this day.


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